BENEFITS of a digital footprint – teach this NOW!

Children and the Internet – this is a hot topic and unfortunately the common view or focus that schools, educators and parents have on this is negative.  We have all heard about and worry about our children dealing with Internet issues such as online stalkers, cyberbullying, pornography sites etc.  I worry about it!  BUT, I also think the Internet is GREAT and that there are lots of interesting ways to learn online.  I also think it’s important for my own children to be ICT savvy.

So the problem that I see right now in schools (and in some families) is that this focus has turned into FEAR because it makes sense that we only hear of the BAD stuff that happens online.  The good stuff in life doesn’t always make the News!  The FEAR is compounded with a major lack of knowledge/skills – let’s face it, kids today are generally more digitally inclined than a lot of the teachers & parents out there.

I am not recommending that we don’t teach about the dangers of cyberbullying and online stalkers but we should also be teaching about the BENEFITS of the Internet.

The benefits of a digital footprint

It is important to discuss why so many Internet sites are blocked at schools.  One of the major reasons is the fear that students will find disturbing webpages and will use social media inappropriately.  Concerns about information sharing and cyber-bullying need to be analysed and students should be engaged in critically thinking about how they can manage their online connected lives.

The advantages of a digital footprint and how to increase your digital footprint should be a major teaching focus so that students can see the benefits of acting responsibly online.  Examples of professionals who have developed their digital footprint to gain employment and widen their professional networks must be acknowledged and explored.  The teacher as responsible ICT learner is the ideal role model.

7 comments on “BENEFITS of a digital footprint – teach this NOW!

  1. I think your point is well made. Two concerns I see are, first, the reluctant technologist and, second, too narrow a script defined by our technocratic superiors. I think the former is very complex and the latter complicated due to the prescriptive nature of the fiats from above. What do you see in Australia to help resolve the issue?


    • elketeaches says:

      Big questions! I think you’re referring to some teachers as “reluctant technologist”. There is some professional learning that is in place that gets a few excited about using ICTs in the classroom. There are also ICT certificates that teachers are meant to strive for too and “embedded ICTs” are often stated within curriculum documents. I think the biggest drawback to the teachers who might consider learning/using ICTs in the classroom is the issues with blocked sites, lack of resources and lack of support – once they hit these barriers they often then give up and I don’t blame them; it’s frustrating.

      The “technocratic superiors” is a more complicated beast and one that I don’t fully understand, especially since I’m not actually teaching yet. I often hear about the “red tape” in public education and I’m convinced it’s one of the reasons why teachers give up the profession. However, supposedly there are “ways around” the internet blocks and it’s a process that requires sign-off, getting the IT-support to unblock etc, but supposedly it can be done; another hassle and more frustration!

      Personally, I know I can’t let this stuff get me down or I’ll never end up actually teaching. I realise that once I’m teaching and have the pressures of curriculum, testing, grading and also wanting to simply just get to know my students that I will end up sacrificing a lot of this and just do the best that I can.


      • Elke, this is great. The reason I posed the questions is I am in the process of fleshing out a PhD dissertation topic and this is what I am looking at: technology, impacts on learning, and the role it plays in leadership formation and identification. Right now, it is not a very coherent topic, but I am enjoying the conversation with you, Nick Falkner, Joe Bower, and others so I am looking forward to more interchange of ideas. Thank you.


  2. Margaret says:

    Instead of worrying about the students who will/could fall through the ‘gap of learning’ for whatever reason; close the gap through school and community education.


  3. […] positive role-models, we need teachers and parents who do not fear the Internet and use it often in positive ways.  We should be teaching our kids about ethics and morals anyway and this should be integrated with […]


  4. […] today is wrong and disadvantages our students.  Learning about being a good digital citizen (and the benefits that go along with that) and ensuring that students are aware of the potential risks and dangers […]


  5. […] overly-reported risks online has caused fear resulting in limited social media use in schools and disapproval by parents and the community (Ahn, 2011; Valenzuela et al., 2009).  Teachers that recognise and are […]


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